I post this picture for my article, because Javon Walker is a major key for the success of this wide receiver's group.
That's not to say that he needs to catch a ton of balls for them to be successful, that is to say that he must lend them some of his knowledge he has obtained over his seven going on eight years in the league.
Javon, believe it or not, was once the favorite target of a future hall of fame QB, Brett Favre. Javon has been to the top and been considered one of the the best wide receivers in the league.
He knows what it takes, and he says that he will help develop these youngster's alongside rookie receivers' coach Sanjay Lal.
The problem with this theory is that he certainly doesn't want to be replaced by the young up and comers. He doesn't want to not play football, in fact, depending on who you ask he could be on the verge of being elite again.
According to PressDemocrat.com, Javon puts it like this, "Well, you know, seeing from the procedure that I just had, seeing the first thing that they told me was, 'You have a real high tolerance for pain.' And I said, 'Yeah, I do.' It was something where at the time, the motivation I get from it is I'm still out there competing and winning... it was a situation where it wasn't going to get right (by itself), you know what I mean?
"You can look good physically, feel good physically but just with the body and the way that it is, it was a situation that was never going to get right. So now that I've got it right, now I look forward to really doing and getting back to what I used to do, knowing that I can keep going up on the scales as far as feeling percentage-wise."
In this interview, conducted during the second day of the OTA's in Alameda, Javon also goes on to say this about his teamates, "it's a great group out there. Obviously, I'm not old, but I feel like I'm the oldest one.
"Hopefully we can all learn from each other... I was telling the receivers coach, Sanjay (Lal), man you've got the best technically sound group I've ever been around since I've been coming through, as a whole. These guys, I'm kind of scared to get out there with them because (they're) fast, how they break down in routes"
This could be a bunch of hot air that he's spewing, or he could be being honest. If he's honest, that's scary in and of itself because he's been around Antonio Freeman, Robert Ferguson, and Donald Driver in Green Bay, and also Rod Smith, Brandon Marshall, and Brandon Stokley in Denver.
If Javon himself is actually the 100 percent that he claims to be able to get to at the interview it would be very good for an organization that just signed him to a huge contract.
Walker says, "So now that I know I can work to get to 100 percent...Eventually, when I get back to my health that I once was 2 1/2 years ago, it's going to be something really, really interesting to hear about it...that's the thing about me: I just know how to play football.
"So now you take all that, and let's try to execute it in the game plans and against real teams and see how real times do. And that just comes with knowledge and time."
We at Raider nation hope you are honest Javon Walker, go get it boy.
We all know who No. 15 is in Oakland. If you ain't on his bandwagon, I suggest you hop on it now.
He is a tremendously fast (4.27 40-yard dash), agile, and shifty return man who proved to us towards the end of last year that he can catch JaMarcus Russell's bullets as well.
We all know who Johnnie Lee Higgins is because A) he has a great name, and B) he has made it so darn hard for us not to notice him cutting backflips in the end zone and such things.
JLH finished the year with 12 of his 22 catches in his last three games and scored a touchdown in each of those contests. The last game vs. Tampa Bay, he made six catches for 52 yards and a TD, leading the team in receiving.
He was exciting in the return game as well, returning 44 punts for 570 yards. That's an average of 12.9 yards per return while posting 3 TD's.
He added 36 kickoff returns before the signing of Justin Miller, and racked up 842 yards for an average of 23.4 yards per return, however, never scored on a kickoff.
He started last year as the low receiver on the totem pole, if you will. I expect him to keep returning the punts, and see a lot more offensive action early on this year.
He and J'Rock could be a strong connection, and Higgins could create many mismatches in the slot or in four wide sets.
Higgins once told Jeanette Thompson of "The Raiders Report" that the reason he runs like he runs is because he doesn't want to get tackled and get hurt. This is one fear I hope that he hangs onto, because it makes him very dangerous against the opposition.
Last year he totaled 7 TD's. This year expect him to grab at least 7 receiving, and match his punt return total (3) from last year. This scenario would give him 10 total TD's and make him a legitiment fantasy football sleeper.
Higgins should rack up around 500 or more yards receiving and snag around 50 catches.
Here's a look at his college highlight film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNJBrviNPjM&feature=related
I love this photo, it's just fantastic. There will be plenty more this year if he can stay healthy. One thing will be different though, his number, at least in minicamp and OTA's was 82. This still puzzles me, I've been unable to find out any info on that change.
Chaz Schilens may be the next Marques Colsten. A seventh round draft pick with great size and Raider speed out of a low profile college.
Colsten is 6'4", 225 lbs and has compiled 215 career receptions for 3000 yards and 24 TD's in 41 games. Working with Saints MVP candidate QB Drew Brees has been a big plus for him.
Chaz Schilens is 6'4", 225 lbs and runs a 4.38 40 yard dash with a 43" verticle jump. He has tremendous potential and made a name for himself at the end of last season for Raider Nation catching two TD's in the last two games, in which he started due to injuries.
JaMarcus could develop a fondness for the massive pass catcher from San Diego State. The coaching staff has raved about his performance so far this offseason. It's been said that he didn't drop a single pass in the team's practices.
This guy has all the intangibles to be a dominant force in the Raiders passing game. I expect him to be the go to guy, and catch at least 70 passes, 8-10 TD's, and at least 900 receiving yards. This low estimate is for you, Coach Elkins, you Raider Hater.
To see highlights of Mr. Schilen's click this link: http://www.nfl.com/videos/oakland-raiders/09000d5d80dbacc9/Chaz-Schilens-Highlight-WK-17-vs-Buccaneers-2008
and this one too: http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/09000d5d80d8b508/Chaz-Schilens-Highlight-WK-16-vs-Texans-2008
In the infamous words of Lee Corso, "This guy's gonna be goooood!"
Darrius Heyward-Bey is a great blocking wide receiver who can really move and get up the field quickly when asked to do so. He is a great fit for what Oakland should be trying to do this year in their offense.
What should they be doing? I'm so glad you asked. They should be running to set up play action passes, and throwing deep balls to loosen up the running lanes for sensational halfbacks.
DHB played in a pro-style run first offense in college. This should be very similar to what the Raiders are doing this year. DHB is used to blocking on running plays.
Maryland is a run-based offense, and DHB has had a lot of experience blocking for HBs, which is the reasoning for his low college numbers and the reason why the Raiders like him so much, because they have three exceptional HBs he can block for, and a QB who can launch rockets from the pocket.
If he can get back in shape after being pushed in those OTA's, he could be another chain mover and highlight reel waiting to happen style of player with the big armed QB tossing the rock.
Darrius has blazing speed as well. It's been out there that he once ran a 4.25 40 yard dash. He has great size too, at 6'2" and 210 lbs. DHB is not selfish; he is a team player who doesn't seem to carry the baggage of the "me-first" attitude. In fact, he wants to "redshirt" his freshman year in the NFL.
He is fortunate to be in Oakland, with players like DMC, JMR, JLH, Michael Bush, Chaz Schilens, Javon Walker, Zach Miller, and Justin Fargas, he will be able to groom his talent instead of being thrown under the bus and relied upon heavily.
This was a great draft pick by the Raiders henchmen, and DHB will prove all the doubters wrong with time. The kid is a sensational talent, and working against the best cornerback in the league, Nnamdi Asomugha, everyday in practice will only make him better.
To see highlights of DHB click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyjaBWuo4zA
Todd Watkins is another seventh rounder that the coaches are high on. He is a very under the radar player even when you're talking to Raiders faithful. He has a tremendous attitude about the Raider atmosphere and plays with an extraordinary amount of heart and courage.
Watkins played his high school ball with New Orleans Saints HB Reggie Bush and San Fransisco 49ers QB Alex Smith at Helix High School in San Diego, California, where he lettered in football, volleyball, soccer and track. Watkins was the only athlete in 25 years at Helix High to letter in four different sports.
“It’s one of the premier places in San Diego to play. It’s a big time football school. Kids all around the county want to go there. They’ve got a great winning tradition,” Watkins says.
While some of his teammates went on to large Division I programs, Watkins ended up at Division III Grossmont College in nearby El Cajon, CA. He impressed the Division I BYU Cougars coaching staff enough with his play for the Griffins that they offered him a scholarship following the 2003 season.
During his first season at BYU, after being named an instant starter, Watkins totaled 52 receptions for 1042 yards and six touchdowns. He averaged a Mountain West Conference record 94.7 yards per game, and averaged 20 yards per catch.
After that season, he was named a first team all MWC and honorable mention all-american. Sports Illustrated named him the best deep threat in the nation.
He was selected in the 2006 NFL draft by the Arizona Cardinals and spent two years on the practice squad.
Before the 2008 season, he signed with Oakland and went on to appear in a career high 8 games. He is hoping with a little familiarity of the offense, he can reach that next level of NFL play despite not having a catch last season.
Having learned three offensive schemes in four years, Watkins looks to help rookies, Darrius Heyward-Bey of Maryland and Louis Murphy of Florida, as they try and grasp a new playbook.
“They’re good rookies. I’ve enjoyed being around them in the meeting rooms and the locker room. They are definitely going to help this team,” Watkins said.
Watkins could be very beneficial to the offense after impressing people in college, and having played behind Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin in Arizona.
“People will see that once the season starts. I can see big differences now as opposed to last year," Watkins added. "We are light years ahead of where we were last year. We’re going to be a lot better then people are giving us credit for.”
Tell em Todd. For video of Watkins go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEFv1qF9NeU
Louis Murphy started 26 games for the Gators in his college career at Florida. He accumulated two national championships, a captain status in his senior year, and 27 straight games with a reception.
He caught a total of 77 balls for 1,245 yards and 13 touchdowns. At one point, he caught at least three passes in five straight games.
Overshadowed by QB Tim Tebow and HB/WR Percy Harvin, Murphy slid all the way into the middle of the fourth round. Tom Cable said, "We couldn't pass him up."
Murphy has good size at 6'2" and 200 lbs. He ran a 4.43 40-yard dash at the combine, and it's reported he once ran a 4.25 at Florida.
He has a clean track record, is meticulous in his work, and loved by his coach's at both levels of football. He has a team first attitude and is known for being very coachable.
The knocks on Murphy are that he is a questionable blocker, doesn't like to go across the middle of the field, and has been known to have inconsistent hands.
Here's what head coach Tom Cable said about his underdog, "He’s probably the surprise of our (rookie) class. He has all the makings to be a very special football player at this level—mainly because he was impressive on a daily basis. We really think we found one.”
I hope you're right Tom, turn this kid into the player we all know he is capable of being.
Click here for highlights of Murphy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DWXtNtyBLY
I gave you my top six (not in any specific order) out of the roster. Whether they will be the six starters or not remains to be seen. Now I will list the receivers who may have a long term shot. I call them the "Maybe's."
Among the "Maybe's" there are several different types of receivers of all shapes and sizes. Some of them are going to be practice squad players, others will be waiting for an injury to occur and sitting by their phones.
Arman Shields may be the most likely to succeed of the bunch. He is full of talent, but has had big time injury problems. He's a fourth round pick from the '08 draft.
Shields caught 160 passes for 1,930 yards, averaged 12.0 yards per catch, and scored 13 touchdowns while attending Richmond. He missed his rookie season on IR. He is 6'1 and 195 lbs.
Jonathan Holland is another who has caught the eye of coaches early this season. He is a seventh round pick from 2007 out of Louisiana Tech. Holland caught 85 passes for 1,426 yards and averaged 17.9 yards per catch and scored 6 touchdowns while in college. He is 6'1" and 195 lbs. as well.
Will Franklin (6'0" 210 lbs.) is a new receiver to the Oakland scene who transferred over from Kansas City. K.C. selected him in the fourth round of the '08 draft out of Mizzou's spread offense.
He saw action in 13 games with one start for the Kansas City and had 7 catches for 83 yards. In college he caught 143 passes for 2,125 yards (14.9 avg.) and 13 touchdowns.
Sammy Parker is the second longest tenured pro receiver on the squad next to Javon Walker. He is going into his fifth year in the league. Parker spent four years with the Chiefs, during which he was a special teams standout for them and an occasional starter.
He saw action in 47 games with 31 starts in his four seasons with Kansas City. His career totals include 110 receptions for 1,529 yards and seven touchdowns. He could get a roster spot for his special teams abilities.
Shawn Beyes from Kent State, and Nick Miller from Southern Utah are not likely to make the roster with all the people ahead of them. One thing is for certain in this squad; they are not the same group as last year.
They will generate a great atmosphere and solid competition for each other this coming training camp and preseason.
First year receivers coach Sanjay Lal is winning over the squad with his innovative coaching style. Ted Tollner and Paul Hackett will have their fingerprints all over this squad as well.
Expect at least 40 catches from each of the top four wideouts this year regardless of who gets the top four spots. Expect at least 25 TD passes from J'Rock. Love ya Coach Elkins!